18 Reasons to Attend the IAC National Conference

  1. It’s basically Birthright, only in America!

Is Birthright too much of a time commitment to take off from your first full-time job? Instead of schlepping to Israel, this time let Israel come to you. IAC National Conference will have Israeli food, music, companies and, well, Israelis themselves.

  1. Let’s share a L’Chaim! Or two…

The IAC National Conference isn’t all business, all the time. With social hours every night and an IAC Young Professionals sponsored after-party, everyday of the conference will give you the chance to schmooze or get schwasty.

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  1. America’s capitol, our conference’s host, your playground

Washington D.C. is undisputedly an awesome city to hang out in. Museums, nightlife, and constant buzz of activity make it a destination worth exploring over the course of the conference.

  1. Kibbitz (network/chat) like a pro – with the pros

At events from small panel discussions to workshops, you’ll meet established business personalities, successful entrepreneurs, and fellow young professionals, and you’ll also have the chance to swap ideas and contact details with all of them.

  1. Lookin’ for love after Tu B’Av

If you want someone special in your life, try attending something special. IAC National Conference attracts hundreds of Jewish and Israeli-American 20-30 something-year-olds. It’s safe to assume you might attract one of them too.

  1. Connect with your Jewish identity

If you only make it to services for High Holidays (or not at all), or if you’re more Jew-ish than Jewish, and you’re looking for something more, we can help.

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  1. Get your nosh on!

Looking to move beyond a bagel and shmear? We’ll have four days of gourmet Israeli food for you to explore to your heart’s content.

  1. Put your kvetching (complaining) to good use

IAC‘s activities reflect the priorities of our members. Through Mishelanu or G’vanim (IAC pro-Israel programs), you can make what you’re passionate about part of IAC’s agenda. Environmentalism, justice, and philanthropy are all central to both Jewish and Israeli identity, and IAC understands the call to action on the most pressing issues today.

  1. Meet your mishpocha (family)

No matter your nationality or ancestry, you share a powerful bond with every other Jew. Exploring that bond seated next to Jews from different places, even different countries, is a powerful experience. You can trust us on that, we’ve been doing this since 2014.

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  1. Looking for a few good mensches (role models)

IAC’s programs for college students, recent graduates and young professionals aren’t just about finding a place in the Jewish and Israeli-American community. They also provide extensive leadership and communication training so that you can also achieve your goals outside of our community.

  1. Dance your tuches off

Forget Coachella. IAC has brought you the real rock stars. Grammy winner Miri Ben-Ari, Einat Sarouf and Rami Kleinstein will all be in attendance. If you’re unacquainted with our lineup, then we recommend getting started listening through their discography. You’ll want to be familiar enough to sing along when they play your faves.

  1. Meet your hero!

There are over 100 confirmed speakers at IAC National Conference, from the realms of politics, diplomacy, business, technology and philanthropy. No matter what your field or interest, there is someone attending that will inspire you, and give a few pointers on how to follow in their footsteps.

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  1. Panels, panels, panels

Regardless of your reason for attending, IAC offers a wealth of panels to attend. With sessions covering ancient traditions and modern practice, the problem won’t be finding an event that’s interesting to you; it’ll be fitting all of them in your schedule.

  1. Dust off your Hebrew

Are you looking to move beyond “shalom”? Or are you already fluent and looking to schmooze with your fellow Ivrit speakers? No matter your background or comfort level with Hebrew, the IAC National Conference will be the best place to bust it out.

  1. It will make your Bubbe proud

Has your Bubbe been on your case lately to attend services? Find a nice Jewish partner? Finally learn that brisket recipe so that it can be passed down from generation to generation? The IAC National Conference might only offer one of those (see point 5), but just attending will be sure to at least win some brownie  – or “Bubbe” – points.

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  1. Avoid FOMO

With speakers, panels, musicians, and parties of this caliber, your friends are probably thinking of attending. And even if your current friends aren’t there, the friends you will make by attending will certainly be at the conference.

  1. Be a bridge for the American-Jewish and Israeli-American communities

One of IAC’s highest priorities is joining these two together into a greater, united community. Your mission, should you choose to accept us, is to help create that bridge. As these communities plan their shared future, it’s only fair that 20-30 year olds take a seat behind the steering wheel.

  1. Join the fastest growing Jewish organization in the US

Find new friends, get involved in great causes, and expand your professional skillset and network, all through programming designed for students and young professionals, by your peers. IAC will always offer something worthwhile to anyone looking to engage with their Jewish or Israeli identity — now that’s something to kvell (brag) about!

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Learn more and sign up to attend the IAC National Conference in DC from November 3-6 here.

About the Author: Tal Zmiri is the National Director for IAC Mishelanu, a program that works with Israeli-Americans and Jewish Americans on college campuses around the country.  Prior to working at the IAC, Tal was the Educational Director for Israel Experience Ltd. in Israel. She lives in New York with her partner and their two children.

The above is a sponsored blog post. The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Kira: DC Jewish Professional of the Week

Kira Borman is what your Bubbe would call a mensch (role model). She spends her days creating a vibrant Jewish life for young adults as Federation’s Young Leadership Associate, her weekends downward dogging at yoga class, and her nights attending fun Jewish community events across the city. She also happens to be one of the sweetest, friendliest, and most hard-working ladies out there. So…you should probably get to know her.

Allie: So, tell us about a day in the life of a DC Jewish professional.

Kira: As The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Young Leadership Associate, no day is ever the same. One day, I may be surfing in Tel Aviv while staffing a Birthright Israel trip, and another day, I could be drinking cold brew coffee at WeWork with other Jewish young professionals for our monthly learning collaborative.

When I’m not traveling across continents or throughout DC, I spend lots of time in the office planning fun get-togethers for Birthright Israel alumni, creating special programs for members of Federation’s giving societies, and putting on great events for our larger Jewish community (such as our upcoming Havdalah with an Israeli Changemaker on November 4). So, it’s safe to say my work keeps me pretty busy day-to-day. More than anything, what I love most about my job is that I’m always meeting new, amazing young adults living in our local community!

Allie: I hear you’ve staffed a TON of Birthright Israel trips. What’s that like?

Kira: I’m beyond thankful that part of my job includes staffing Birthright Israel trips for adults ages 22-26! Looking back on my last trip (shout out to #Bus555), the highlight was definitely the 13 participants that celebrated their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs while looking over the Saadim ruins near Jerusalem.

The B’nei Mitzvah participants ranged from Hebrew school dropouts (no shame!), to individuals that wanted to re-experience their Bar/ Bat Mitzvahs at a time that was more meaningful to them. Each of the B’nei Mitzvah participants had the opportunity to say the blessings before and after the Torah reading, share the meaning of their chosen Hebrew names, and discuss what this experience meant to them. This was one of those truly unforgettable memories that motivates me to get up every morning and do what I do.

From my first trip (#Bus488) to my most recent trip, I’ve been absolutely blown away by how curious participants are. The amount of genuinely meaningful and deep conversations I’ve had on Birthright Israel continue to inspire me for months after the trip.

My biggest challenge on each trip is how to make my Birthright participants’ 10 days in Israel as incredible as possible.

Allie: What’s your go-to food to break the fast with on Yom Kippur?

Kira: Definitely a GOOD bagel and cream cheese. I was gluten free (you can make all the jokes you want!) for about a year and a half because my body seemed to strongly dislike wheat. But…last Yom Kippur, I felt so cruddy from fasting all day that I figured, worst case scenario, if I tried a bagel, I’d continue to feel awful. Thankfully, that was not the case and I felt totally fine! While I can’t say it was as good as a Tompkins Square Bagel, I’ve been happily enjoying the gluten life ever since =]. Hooray for not gluten free challah and finally getting to try District Donuts!

Allie: Tell us your favorite way to spend a free Sunday in the city.

Kira: Assuming I’m not starting the day off too slow, my ideal Sunday kicks off with a yoga class and then a trip to the Dupont farmer’s market for some delicious fresh fruits and veggies (and, yes, maybe some gluten-full treats as well). Those who know me, know that I’m still getting over my move from the Navy Yard and missing my very favorite VIDA down at The Yards. If you ever have the chance to take yoga (or even Pilates) with Chris Parkison at The Yards’ VIDA, take it!! I promise, I’m not getting paid to say this, Chris just totally got me hooked on yoga and I’m forever grateful to him for that.

Allie: Complete this sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Kira: You know that at least one person showed up because their mother told them, “go! you might meet someone nice!”

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Meet Aaron: DC’s Jewish Coffee Guru of the Week!

Aaron Wallach is kind of living the DC young professional dream. After bonding with his friends at The University of Maryland over college drinking…of coffee…he and his friends went on to start their very own organic coffee company JavaZen. Today, he is JavaZen’s Chief Wellness Officer, current (though soon to be former) Moishe House Bethesda resident, Boca Raton aficionado, and chicken soup connoisseur. Get to know him!

 

Allie: A little birdie (AKA: my coworker) tells me you started a company called JavaZen. First off, mazel. Second, how did that that came about?

Aaron: My 3 second pitch – JavaZen is organic coffee in a compostable tea bag. Its truly brewed coffee on the go. Check it out on Amazon prime, Mom’s, Wegmans, and at camping stores across the country.

The JavaZen journey began four years ago at the University of Maryland. My co-founders and I wanted better coffee than what was being served to us.  So, we went about working on solutions to make coffee better and healthier for ourselves and for the world.

 

Allie: What’s your go-to coffee order?

Aaron: Easy. A single origin organic coffee bean brewed in a french press for four to five minutes with 8oz of purified spring water. However, this is hard to find since most “coffee bars” are more focused on selling milk and sugar than on coffee.

One free pro-tip: when going to Starbucks, they have a sugary matcha tea drink for pretty cheap. It’s my go to order.

Allie: Any special plans for the High Holidays?

Aaron: I’ll be hitting the clubs with my grandma down in Boca Raton, FL. This means, Sunday brunches, early evening dinners, tennis lessons – all while wearing nice khaki pants and a collared shirt of course. It will truly be something special.

Allie: What’s your favorite Jewish food?

Aaron: Chicken Soup made with a special heritage kosher chicken. For the past two years, I’ve lived in a Moishe House in Bethesda.  Over the summer, my house did a series of meals and events which focused on ethical kosher eating. For many of the meals, we went around the table asking each participant what it meant to keep kosher. For some, the ethics of how food was made is important, and for others is was an afterthought.  

As a young Jewish leader and professional, I see the connection between Judaism and food becoming a central tenet of what it means to be Jewish for our generation.

Allie: Complete this sentence: When Jews of DC Gather…

Aaron: …we all talk about the food.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

What Broad City Teaches Us About Next Level Friendship

I don’t watch nearly enough TV to know for sure, but it’s hard to imagine there’s a better pair of friends on-screen right now than Broad Citys Ilana and Abbi. So with the new season starting tonight (9/13), and with the High Holidays just a week away, I figured it’s a good time to address the topic of friendships.

Given the importance of friendships (the Talmud says: “friendship or death”), it’s surprising how rarely we reflect on our relationships with friends – what qualities we look for in a friend, what we expect from a friendship, how we can deepen a friendship, how we can be a better friend, etc.

We spend a lot of time thinking about friends as “possessions” – the ones we have, the ones we no longer have, the ones we wish we had – and less time on what it means to be a friend. We often focus more on quantity of friends than quality of friendships.

Quantity isn’t really a Jewish value when it comes to friendship. As Ethics of our Fathers states: “Acquire a friend for yourself.” Just one is sufficient. But what about quality? Thanks in part to Facebook, the word “friend” has lost a lot of its meaning. Besides, there are different tiers of friends. (“Best friend is not a person, it’s a tier.” – Mindy Kaling.) So, what type of friend must we acquire?  

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Based on this idea from Ethics of our Fathers, Maimonides, arguably the most famous Jewish philosopher, explains that there are three types of friends:

1) a friend with benefits (yup, he actually uses that term)

2) a pleasant friend

3) a friend for the good

He explains that friends with benefits, or “useful friends,” are like business partners. They each do something for the other in this transactional relationship. As it says in Ecclesiastes (4:9-10): “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow; but woe to him that is alone when he falls, for he has not another to help him up.” While we associate “friends with benefits” to a particular type of relationship today, sadly, this may describe more of our friendships than we’d like to admit.

Pleasant friends, the second tier according to Maimonides, “inspire full confidence, so that you do not need to be reserved with them in action or in speech. Rather, you will be able to reveal to them all your concerns, the good and the ugly, without fear that it will bring you harm before them or anyone else. For when one achieves this level of confidence in another person, s/he will discover great pleasantness in speaking with that person and the intimacy of that friendship.” This perfectly captures the friendship of Abbi and Ilana, and it describes the type of friendship we crave for in a society that obstructs intimacy.

But interestingly, there is a higher tier than this – “friends for the good” – and this is the type of friend that Maimonides believes we should acquire. He describes this type of friend as follows:

When both friends yearn for and are directed toward one goal, namely, the good. Each one will want to be helped by the other in achieving that good for both of them together… This kind of friendship is like the friendship that a teacher feels for a student and a student feels for a teacher.

As opposed to the second tier, which is defined by absolute acceptance, this higher-level friend pushes and challenges the other to grow. This type of friendship requires honest communication and receptivity to hard truths. It might not be as fun, or as “pleasant,” but it does move us toward greater self-actualization.

This top-tier of friendship is not easy to build or maintain. Many of us may not even want it; growth is painful, and maintaining a second-tier friendship is hard enough (especially when your friend, like Ilana, wants it to also be a “friends with benefits” relationship). But, as we head into the high holidays -traditionally a time for self-reflection – next week, it’s worth considering who pushes us to be our best selves. If you don’t have such a person, perhaps it’s time to acquire a top-tier friend for yourself.

 

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

How to Create a Budget that Works for You

Just like with healthy eating and exercise habits, it’s really hard to stick to a budget. That’s usually because we are trying to stick to a budget that doesn’t make sense for us. So let’s figure out how you can create a budget that will help you be financially successful.

Identify your financial goals

It’ll be a lot easier to stick to a budget if you know what you’re doing it for… sticking to a budget for budget’s sake is a recipe for failure. That’s why you need to identify your goals so that you can see what you’re working towards. You’ll feel a lot more motivated that way.

What is most important to you moving forward? Do you want to make changes in your career, love life, friendships or financial situation? Do you want to travel? Pick out the goals that mean the most to you, and then you can figure out how to achieve them.

Make sure you write those goals down – you’re much more likely to reach them that way. If these goals are big, break them down into digestible steps. This will make it much less intimidating, and also feel more attainable. For example, if you want to save $5,000 in a travel fund by 2018, figure out how much you’d have to save each week to make that happen.

Now that you know your goals, you can build your budget to help you reach them.

(Need some ideas for goals to work towards? Check out these simple financial goals for 2017.)

Figure out how much is coming in

Some of us don’t even know how much our monthly income is. We get our direct deposit and go on with our day. But it’s really important to know exactly how much is coming in each month. You can’t plan ahead if you don’t know what you’re working with.

Look at your past four paychecks. Are they consistent? What’s being taken out of them besides taxes? Add up your monthly paychecks and any other income you typically receive. That’s the maximum amount of money you should be spending on everything each month.

Figure out how much is going out

Look at all of your expenses. These are broken out into fixed costs, flex spending, debt payments, and other priorities. Add them all up to figure out how much you spend every month.

Here are some definitions to help you:

Fixed costs: Any costs that usually stay the same each month. This can be rent, insurance, utilities, or subscriptions. These are the types of expenses that you usually cannot change (even if you want to). Make sure you’re also including non-monthly expenses in this amount. (Read more about preparing for those.)

Flex spending: This is any spending that can fluctuate from month to month. It can include groceries, gas, shopping, dining out, etc. You usually have some control over these amounts.

Debt payments: Whatever you’re paying towards any debt each month. This can include credit card debt, student loans, car payment, etc.

Other priorities: This amount is anything you’re putting towards other goals, like savings or paying extra towards your debt.

To make this easier, link up your accounts to programs like Learnvest, Personal Capital or Mint. They will automatically categorize your spending into different buckets, so you can see where you are using most of your money.

Once you can see how much is going out during a typical month, you can see how that compares to what is coming in. Are you spending more than you earn? Do you have money leftover that you can allocate to your financial goals?

Decide where you can cut back

Compare your spending habits to the goals you just identified. Do they align? If you realize that you’re spending a lot of money on things you don’t value, you can make some changes. Here are some good questions to get you started:

  1. Are there any subscriptions that you are paying for but not using? (ie: gym membership, magazine subscription, ZipCar, etc.)
  2. Are you taking a lot of cabs or ubers when you could walk, carpool, or take public transportation?
  3. Do you go out for lunch every day when you could be bringing your lunch to work?
  4. Is your money going towards the things you enjoy the most?
  5. Do you regret any of your spendings over the past few months?

(Read more about aligning your spending with your values.)

Adjust your spending as necessary

If you’ve realized that you’re spending more than you’re earning, or that your money isn’t going where you want it to, you can make changes. You have the power!

When you look at how much you’re earning each month, minus your fixed costs and debt payments, how much do you have left? That number is how much you should spend on flex costs and other priorities. Don’t go over that number or you risk going into debt. Allocate the number based on your needs and wants. Obviously you can’t cut out things like food, but you can spend less on dining out, while buying groceries more often. You can make coffee at home and bring your lunch to work. You can cut back on unnecessary shopping trips. (Share in the comments how you’re planning to make changes!)

Throughout this process, and as you continue to use your budget, keep your eye on the prize. Track how much closer you are to your goal each month. Print out a picture of your dream house and keep it on your desk. Remind yourself everyday that you’re doing this for an important reason! You’re doing it for YOU! That will make it easier to stick to.

Automate what you can

The easiest way to save is to set it and forget it. Set up direct deposit from your paycheck, or have your bank make scheduled transfers. This way, you don’t have to think about it and you won’t miss the money. You’re way more likely to save when you do this.

If you are working to pay down your debt, set up auto pay or set a reminder for yourself each month. You want to make sure to pay your bills on time, and this will take some of the work away from you. Just make sure you have enough in your bank account each month to pay these bills!

Note: If you’re already living on a bare bones budget, and still have nothing leftover, you might have to bring in more income. Can you ask for a raise at work soon? Perhaps you can take on a side gig, like babysitting, dog walking, or bartending. Another option is to monetize your skills. If you’re an awesome writer or copy editor, put yourself out there for hire!

Do you want a sample budget spreadsheet to get you started? Email me at hello@maggiegermano.com!

This post originally appeared on Maggie Germano Financial Coaching. Want to read more? Check out maggiegermano.com/blog or subscribe to Maggie’s weekly newsletter!

Meet the Mifgash!

This week marks the arrival of the Israelis from the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Reverse Mifgash program. From May 15th until May 25th, 11 participants from all over Israel will immerse themselves in the Jewish-American experience by joining an array of activities from, Shabbat dinners to baseball games to our GatherDC Happy Hour tonight! For those interested in joining any of the activities, check out our list! We spoke with some participants prior to their arrival on our shores to get a better sense of who they are. Read on and you’ll have some nice icebreakers for tonights Happy Hour!

Keren Asaf

I was in the U.S. once before, for my Bat-Mitzvah.

I’m looking forward to visiting the United States, meeting new people with a different way of life, and seeing D.C.

The reason I wanted to participate in Reverse Mifgash is that I was interested to see the Jewish community outside of Israel. I want to meet people and hear about their life and learn what their perspectives are of Israel.

I hope to meet new friends and to feel more committed to my life in Israel and my Judaism. In Israel, we take our Jewish community, holidays, etc., for granted but I guess it is not like that in America.

 

Joe Graham

I have been to the US once, a year ago, visiting family in New York and Las Vegas.

I am most looking forward to meeting new people and connecting with some old friends. I am also very excited about getting to know the culture (both Jewish and general) of the D.C. area.

I hope to take back to Israel great experiences and memories, and also friendships that will last.

 

Dolev Elbaz

I have actually been to the U.S. twice. When I was between the ages of one and three, my family lived in Sacramento, California, where my father studied for his Master’s degree and my mother taught Shalom School (a Jewish day-school). Of course I don’t remember much, but technically I was there. The second time was on a family trip when I was 12 years old (2003). We traveled for about 2 months visiting the West Coast, Chicago, Canada and then the East Coast (including a few days in D.C.). I’m really looking forward to meeting my friends from Birthright and enjoying D.C, with them as an adult. I believe it will be a totally different experience than what I had as a young boy.

I’m excited about the opportunity to experience D.C. and the U.S. with local friends and learn about the Jewish community abroad. I think this is something unique to Reverse Mifgash since we get to meet a lot of people from the Jewish Federation and hear about their work in the community.

I hope to take back some great memories. Secondly, I would like to return with the feeling that Israel has a great Jewish community in the U.S. that supports it. Also, I will be happy to keep in touch with some more friends from D.C.

Adi Amsalem

This will be my first time in the States.

I’m looking forward to being exposed to the daily life of the Jewish community, seeing how Jews live abroad.

I want to enrich my knowledge about Jews as an authentic group in America, and hope to take home some strong memories.

 

Itzhak Zander

This is my first time in the U.S.

 I’m looking forward to seeing people, sites, culture – everything that is different than in Israel!

I really want to feel how Americans feel when they come to Israel with Taglit.

I hope to gain new friends. Besides that, I hope to get a new perspective about  the term ‘community’.

 

Ohad Shturm

I’ve never been to the U.S. before. This will be my first time!

 I’m looking forward to meeting with my friends from the Shorashim bus, back from July 2013. I’m also very excited about meeting with the Jewish community in D.C., going to museums and generally just traveling around somewhere I don’t know. I haven’t done something like this in a while.

I hope I get a chance to learn as much as I can about the way the Jewish people live in the U.S. and discuss all kind of topics.

 

 

Top 5 Places to Get Cheesecake in DC for Shavuot and Beyond

Why we eat cheesecake and other dairy products on Shavuot has long been debated. Whatever the reason you eat cheesecake, you want to eat the best. That’s why we prepared this list of the best cheesecake spots in DC. Is your favorite on the list?

Capital City Cheesecake Mini Cheesecakes

#5 – CAPITAL CITY CHEESECAKES (Takoma Park, MD)

With two sisters at the helm, this Takoma Park, MD bakery prides itself on its cheesecakes. With 12 flavors, including one vegan option (!), their mini cheesecakes can be ordered individually or by the dozen. Almost all flavors come in their 9″ pies as well.

 

 

 

Truckeroo Photo of That Cheesecake Truck

#4 – THAT CHEESECAKE TRUCK (Mobile)

If you can find it, it will make your day. This truck serves mini-cheesecakes in various flavors. Their products are supplied by Sweetz Cheesecake, a storefront out in Gaithersburg, MD. Try to get their Brown Sugar Bourbon if it’s on the menu when you track the truck down!

Buttercream Mini

 

#3 – BUTTERCREAM BAKERY (Shaw)

Shaw’s sweetest addition to 9th Street is the perfect place to stop for your cheesecake fix if you look like this when you’re around baked goods. Each day, these bakers prepare a cheesecake of the day, bundled in a perfect 4 oz. treat for your taste buds and your waistline.

 

 

 

Dog Tag Bakery Selection

#2 – DOG TAG BAKERY (Georgetown)

While variety of cheesecake is not their strong point, these guys serve up some of the best Key Lime Cheesecake north of the Keys. Oh, and they get bonus points for their inspiring tikkun olam (healing the world) business model by employing disabled veterans!

 

Cakeroom’s Red Velvet Cheesecake

#1 – CAKEROOM (Adams Morgan)

This place does pretty much anything with flour, sugar and butter right. But, their cheesecakes are particularly amazing. With 13 flavors to choose from, including Caramel Macchiato, Red Velvet and Oreo, you won’t know where to start. If you’re going at night, arrive there early since they tend to get pretty bare-shelved by 7pm.

 

 

 

For more on how to celebrate Shavuot in DC, check out our Shavuot Guide 2017/5777.

Jewish Composter of the Week – Jeremy

If you’ve been to the Farmer’s Market in Dupont Circle, you’ve probably seen Jeremy Brosowsky. As owner of Compost Cab, Jeremy sets up shop each week collecting your uneaten food in order to turn it into amazing compost goodness. He’s been at it since 2010 but has recently picked up even more steam, now running DC’s new citywide dropoff program on behalf of the DC Department of Public Works.

Still not convinced? Read on to learn how something as simple as composting can make the world a better place. Bonus: Jeremy has set up a promo code for our readers and will donate half of the first month’s proceeds to GatherDC!

How did you first get into composting? 

My interest in composting comes out of my interest in food. It’s a very typical story. After my first child was born, I became acutely aware of everything that we were feeding her. And the more I learned about food and food systems, the more interested I became in the prospect of growing food in and around the city. Fast forward a few years and a few kids, and we were doing a lot right — cooking at home, shopping at farmers markets, etc. But we were still throwing our waste in the garbage, and that really, really bothered me

What made you want to start your own composting business?

Compost Cab exists to do two things. Make it easier for people to compost, and make it easier for urban agriculture to thrive.

I started Compost Cab in large part to solve my own family’s problem. We knew we wanted to compost, but we live in the city — we were worried about rats in the alley, we didn’t have any space to do it right, and with four small children, we didn’t feel like we had the time to do it ourselves. And then my entrepreneurial instincts kicked in.

The more I learned about food systems, the clearer it became that there are two ways to grow food efficiently and intensively in an urban environment. There’s the vertical greenhouse model, which takes advantage of technology requires aeroppnics and hydroponics and other generally capital intensive solutions. And then there’s the fertile soil model, which lets you grow your plants closer together because the soil is nutrient dense. You can maximize your per square foot production in the city through composting. But it turns out that for most urban agriculture projects, acquiring the raw materials for composting in city was a significant challenge.

We put two and two together and created a business that supports community composting and urban agriculture while enabling people to live their values every day.

Why do you think it’s important for people to compost?

For starters, there are all the environmental benefits of composting: reducing waste landfill, reducing methane released into the environment, etc. But beyond all that we’ve discovered that composting is a gateway drug for sustainability writ large. Composting is a daily, affirmative act of sustainability. Unlike other little steps you can take to improve your carbon footprint, like installing LEDs or a rain barrel (which are great things to do!), composting is something you and your family do every day. It’s a powerful tool for behavioral change.

What kind of foods can and cannot be composted?

If it grows, it goes. That is, anything that is organic can be composted. Food of all sorts, paper products, leaves, grass — you name it.  But if you want to compost in your backyard, or through a community based program such as ours, you want to keep proteins out for a bunch of reasons. We have a comprehensive dos-and-don’ts list on our website at compostcab.com.

What if I’m afraid that composting is going to make my apartment smell bad? 

We have a saying that speaks directly to that issue. If it smells bad, you’re doing it wrong. Like anything else, composting requires effort, but when done properly, which means creating a proper mix of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and water, composting smells more like the forest, not the landfill. Or, you can join Compost Cab, and we can pick up your food scraps and compost them for you. Or, you can drop off your food scraps through DC’s new citywide dropoff program, which we’re running on behalf of the DC Department of Public Works.

Do you ever get grossed out by dealing with rotten food? 

Never. To be candid, we (almost) never have any issues with really gross stuff. We take education, outreach, and communication with our members and partners very seriously. As a result we’ve created a super clean stream of compostable material.

How do you connect with the DC Jewish Community?

We’ve been working with Jewish organizations since we started back in 2010. For many years we’ve been donating our services to the DCJCC for their annual Everything But the Turkey Thanksgiving volunteer event, in partnership with DC Central Kitchen. We’ve composted the Labor Seder for Jews United for Justice. We do regular presentations at day schools and synagogues across the region. And then personally, my family is very active in DC Minyan (a community which we helped start), as well as at JPDS (where are four of my children have gone to school). Generally speaking, Jews bend toward environmental stewardship and activism, and we’re proud to help enable those instincts in the realm of sustainability generally, and composting and urban agriculture in particular.

 If I’ve never composted before, what’s the first thing I can do to get started?

Head over to compostcab.com. We’ll point you toward DIY resources or how to participate in a dropoff program. Or you can sign up for our home service: we’ll deliver you a collection bin and get you up and composting in no time. To make it even easier to get started, we’ve created a promo code just for Gather DC readers. Anyone who signs up for our home service in May using the promo code GATHERDC will receive half off their first month of service, and we’ll donate the other half to GatherDC!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

Israel Comes to DC!

From May 15th to May 25th, The Jewish Federation of Greater Washington (JFGW) will welcome 11 Israeli young adults for a 10-day immersive “Reverse Birthright” experience called Reverse Mifgash. Over the course of their stay, JFGW will host multiple events that are open to the community so that we here in DC can meet and greet the Israelis while also participating in lots of different of events, ranging from pure fun to spiritual. Below, we have highlighted some of our favorite events (including our own GatherDC Happy Hour). We hope to see you there! For a full list of events, you can visit JFGW’s Website by clicking here.

Tuesday, May 16

Federation’s Imagine Israel Changemakers Series
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Whittmore House, Washington, DC
Oren Helman, disability advocate and true Israel changemaker, has transformed the way the Israeli workforce employs, integrates and includes workers with disabilities in the work place. Learn how his advocacy efforts with Israel’s Knesset (legislative body) created new employment regulations that champion the rights of individuals with disabilities and set a standard practice which other countries can emulate.
Register Now

Wednesday, May 17

GatherDC May Happy Hour
6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
H Street Country Club, Washington, DC
Share a drink with and get to know our special Israeli guests from Reverse Mifgash.  Meet new people in the DC Jewish community and connect with old friends!
Join us!

Thursday, May 18

Film Screening of “Moos”
6:30 p.m.
E Street Cinema, Washington DC
Enjoy this charming whimsical Dutch tale of love, laughter and the true value of friendship. Moos is one of several films being featured at the Edlavitch DCJCC’s 27th Annual Washington Jewish Film Festival, (one of the largest and most respected Jewish film festivals in North America).
Register Now

Friday, May 19

Good Soul Shabbat
6:15 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Sixth & I Historic Synagague
Join us as Rabbi Scott, Aaron Shneyer and Michal Bilick offer soulful acoustic music, deep spirituality and a thoughtful Shabbat service that will fill the sanctuary with the spirited sound of new tunes and old favorites. Stay for Shabbat dinner with other community members.
Register Now

Viral Shabbat
10:00 p.m.
Moishe House, Washington DC
Keep the Shabbat ruach (spirit) going late into the night with a welcoming and festive multi-generational Shabbat experience. Enjoy food, drinks and the sounds of singer-song leader, Ben Lovenheim.
Sign up

Saturday, May 20

Havdalah on the National Mall
9:30 p.m.
Lincoln Memorial, Washington DC
Experience a special Havdalah service overlooking DC’s beautiful monuments from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
RSVP today

Blue & White Party
10:30 p.m.
Mission, Washington DC
Celebrate Israel’s 69th birthday with Federation’s Young Leadership, BBYO Friends and Alumni Network, Israel House at the Embassy of Israel and the Israeli-American Council (IAC) Get ready to schmooze, mingle and listen to great music with visiting Israeli guests and other members of the community. Ticket includes one premium cocktail or mocktail.
Buy tickets

Sunday May 21

Israel Ride: Spin Class at Vida Fitness
Class 1: 9:00 a.m. – 9:45 a.m.
Class 2: 10:00 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.
Vida at The Yards, Washington DC
Get your shvtiz on with Federation’s Reverse Mifgash Israeli guests and Vida spin instructor (and former Birthright trip leader from bus #43), Blair Mann.
Register Now

Doing Good with Mitzvah Hoppin’
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Sixth & I Historic Synagague
Feel good by doing good with a hands-on-volunteer project that will benefit homeless LGBTQ youth in DC. Federation will join with members of the Edlavitch DCJCC’s EntryPoint and GLOE to make hygiene kits that will greatly benefit this at-risk population.
Register to Do Good

Monday, May 22

Craft Cocktail Class
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Duke’s Grocery, Washington DC
Ever wanted to mix some tasty cocktails? Join Federation’s Young Leadership, 11 Israeli guests from Reverse Mifgash and members of the Greater Washington community for a craft cocktail experience at Duke’s Grocery. Learn to make a few classics, and then enjoy them with friends from Israel and D.C.  Ticket includes craft cocktails (or mocktails) and light vegetarian appetizers.
Register here

Tuesday, May 23

Pre-Game at the Bullpen
5:30 p.m.-7:00 p.m.
The Bullpen
Share a drink and schmooze with others before the Nationals take on the Mariners at Nats Park.
No reservation required

Reverse Mifgash at the Ballpark!
7:05 p.m.-10:00 p.m.
Nationals Park
This night is sure to be a homerun…come cheer for the Washington Nationals as they take on the Seattle Mariners.
Buy tickets

For more questions about any Reverse Mifgash events, contact Kira Borman at kira.borman@shalomdc.org or call 301-348-7343.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

5 Things About Kabbalah You Probably Didn’t Know

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Ask most people what they know about Kabbalah, and they will probably answer with something about mysticism and Madonna. While both have certainly played a role in the popularity of the belief system, Kabbalah’s history is even longer and more complicated than the music career of the “Material Girl”. While we could come up with a much longer list, we didn’t want to cross the “Borderline” given that short blog posts are what is in “Vogue” these days. Okay, we’ll stop (after we “Take a Bow”).

5 Things About Kabbalah You Probably Didn’t Know 

1. Though its roots are from the 2nd Century, Kabbalah really began to flower for the first time during the 13th Century, specifically in Spain with the writings of The Zohar. The Zohar is a collection of commentaries on the Torah designed to guide readers toward understanding the nature of the connection between the divine world and its relationship with themselves. 

2. Many elements of the mysticism involved in Kabbalah have made their way into mainstream Judaism. For example, the notion of tikkun olam, or repairing the world, comes directly from Kabbalah.

3. Interest in Kabbalah has seen a major uptick over the last 30 years. For most of the Western world’s modern existence, Kabbalah was shrouded in mystery at best and relegated to magic mumbo jumbo at worst. However, with the rise New Age spiritualism and a mainstream openness toward mystical experiences, Kabbalah has seen a major resurgence. Its newfound popularity has also given rise to more academic study, especially the ground-breaking works of Gershom Scholem.

4. While you’ve probably never heard of Rav Yehuda Ashlag (1885-1954), he is arguably most responsible for reintroducing Kabbalah back into the world.  Ashlag translated The Zohar to modern Hebrew and his work, Talmud Eser Sefirot, is regarded as the most important textbook for students of Kabbalah.

5. It’s not just Madonna… Kabbalah’s mystic practices have infiltrated celebrity culture in recent years. Kabbalah’s many adherents include Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Gwyneth Paltrow Ariana Grande and Mick Jagger, just to name a few.

Want to know more about Kabbalah? Beginning on Tuesday, May 9th, Sixth and I begins a two part lecture series called Take on the Kabbalah, hosted by Rabbi Scott Perlo. For tickets and more information, click here!

The views and opinions expressed in this blog and on this website are solely those of the original authors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of the organization GatherDC, the GatherDC staff, the GatherDC board, and/or any/all contributors to this site.